Virgil Abloh: Louis Vuitton director and founder of Off-White dies aged 41
Rest in peace, Virgil Abloh
American designer, entrepreneur, artist, and DJ Virgil Abloh has died aged 41.
Abloh, who was the artistic director of Louis Vuitton and the founder of one of the hottest streetwear labels on the planet, Off-White, had been battling cancer, a post on his personal Instagram account confirmed on Sunday night.
He is survived by his wife Shannon Abloh, children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, sister Edwina Abloh and parents Nee and Eunice Abloh.
The Instagram post detailed how Abloh had battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer for two years, cardiac angiosarcoma.
"He chose to endure his battle privately since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture," the post reads.
It went on to detail how Abloh never stopped working.
"Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered. Virgil was driven by his dedication to his craft and to his mission to open doors for others and create pathways for greater equality in art and design. He often said, 'Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,' believing deeply in the power of art to inspire future generations.
"We thank you all for your love and support, and we ask for privacy as we grieve and celebrate Virgil’s life."
News of Abloh's death sparked an outpouring of grief across popular culture, in which Abloh was king. Some 36,000 people had commented on the post announcing Abloh's death by 7.30pm.
British designer and artistic director at Dior, Kim Jones wrote: "So sad to hear about the passing of dear Virgil one of the kindest people you could meet, many great tiles spent travelling the world and hanging out in hotel rooms working in the floor and going through Japanese magazines and laughing and talking about ideas … my thoughts to Shannon and the children and the rest of his family."
Marc Jacobs wrote: "I am so sorry to read this. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones. May you Rest In Peace and Power dear Virgil."
Musician, the Alchemist, Daniel Alan Maman, added: "Beyond speechless. Rest In Peace to the biggest legend in this game. What a true gentleman and over all incredible being."
The CEO of the Louis Vuitton group, LVMH, Bernard Arnault, said “We are all shocked by this terrible news. Virgil was not only a genius designer and a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom. The LVMH family joins me in this moment of great sorrow and we are all thinking of his loved ones on the passing of their husband, father, brother, son, and friend.”
Abloh grew up immersed in skate culture and hip-hop and entered the fashion world with an internship at Fendi in 2009, alongside rapper, fashion mogul, and longtime friend, Kanye West.
The pair met when Abloh was just 22 and collaborated on a number of projects before Abloh launched the label, Pyrex Vision in 2012.
A year later that was re-branded as Off-White, a company whose success led to Abloh landing a job at Louis Vuitton.
Abloh was named artistic director of the iconic brand's menswear ready wear line in March 2018, making him the first person of African descent to lead the brand's menswear line, as well as one of the few black designers at the helm of a major French fashion house.
The same year he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Last July, Abloh was promoted to a new position within LVMH that would allow him to work across the group’s 75 brands, making him the most powerful Black executive in the most powerful luxury group in the world, the New York Times noted.
Abloh, who studied civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, collaborated with a number of major brands including Nike, Ikea, and Mercedes-Benz.